13 New California Chardonnays Perfect To Sip In Winter – Robb Report
A few years ago, I got together with a group of colleagues – wine and food critics and writers – around a table in Fort Bragg to decide which Mendocino wine was the best match for Dungeness Crab this year – the. (This was an annual ritual, which was part of the county’s then large-format Crab and Wine Festival, and was always followed the next day by the task of judging the best crab cakes from local chefs. Good job if you could. get it!)
Faced with mounds of freshly shelled crab on our plates and a range of around eight chardonnays, we took a collective deep breath (some on the panel weren’t big fans of Swiss chard, or at least versions. a bit oily and oaky still popular at the time), swirled and put our nose in the first glass, then sipped and chased the first sip with a little crab. There was a pause, and then a panelist, a prominent Los Angeles culinary editor, said out loud what we were all thinking: “Well, if there’s a moment for buttery California chardonnay, this is with the Dungeness Crab! The association was fabulous.
The association is still fabulous. Only now, especially in the hands of the state’s best winemakers, has Chardonnay evolved into a vibrant balance. It still bears sweet-looking fruit – apple, pear, citrus, and sometimes hints of stone fruit or pineapple – born from our warm, sunny growing season, making it a perfect leaf for the sweet succulence of the crab. But, in general terms, there is a more judicious use of malolactic fermentation (the secondary bacterial ferment that turns hard malic acids into rounder, more dairy lactic acids) and of oak itself, with many winegrowers choosing to reduce the percentage of new barrels. for less spices and oak structure and more transparency of the fruity character of exciting sites.
In the resulting brightness and nuances of today’s great Chardonnays, formidable accords can be found beyond crab in a range of the season’s best and most comforting dishes. Think butter poached lobster (or Newberg or, okay, make it into lobster mac and cheese), creamy seafood risotto (add mushrooms, a bridge to the more earthy, mineral side of the wine), soup with French onion (Chardonnay likes onions and root vegetables), chicken and dumplings (to say nothing of simple roast chicken or the glorious chicken pie), southern shrimp and oatmeal (chardonnay is a sucker for corn), traditional pork chops with spicy apples or even the ever popular cacio e pepe.
Here are 13 beautiful bottles that will turn all of the above into a winter treat.